‘So, what’s in it for the mentor?”
I’m still somewhat shocked that I continue to hear this phrase. My natural first response…
“If you need me to answer that question for you, mentoring probably isn’t for you.”
But mentoring IS for everyone. So I thought I’d try and articulate a more informative response as to why I believe everyone should strive to be a mentor.
In a survey we conducted a few years ago, we asked some of Australia’s leading tech & business mentors, what drives them to be a mentor? At Mentorloop we believe that good mentorship is reciprocal so we asked this question to drill beyond ‘it feels good’ and ‘I want to give back’ to understand and prove the value to mentors beyond altruistic related outcomes.
One theme that stood out to me was the value in being reminded to eat some of your own dog food. If you haven’t heard of this phrase before this quote from a Startmate mentor sums it up:
“Being honest with other people about their problems is also a good opportunity to reflect on your own life. The best advice I’ve given to someone is often the advice I’ve needed to hear myself… but rarely are people as honest with themselves as they are with others.”
Running a mentoring software company, I’m naturally a big believer in mentoring! Through our association with the startup and tech community, over the past few years, I’ve been fortunate to be able to interact and meet with people I wouldn’t normally have the opportunity to. I’ve refined my craft and have now built out my own personal advisory board of mentors. People I can turn to when I need help, guidance or support.
It’s funny though, I’ve never really put myself out there as a mentor. Sure, I’ve been approached from time to time to have a quick coffee, answer a few questions or provide some advice. It’s only been a recent experience through Mentorloop Marketplace that I now personally recognise the benefits of playing the role as a mentor.
Listening is a skill. And it’s a skill I think very few people master. Instead, it’s one of those things we need to remind ourselves of constantly to actively practice. It’s hard – but it’s the hard things that often deliver us the most reward. Actively listening to someone else – like really properly listening – is almost a form of meditation. It puts you in a place where you clear your head and think of nothing else but what someone else is saying. Your mind can’t wander off to thinking about what meeting is coming up next or what you need to buy for dinner that night. You are in the moment – listening to this person who at that point in time – believes you are the best person to help them.
Playing the role of a mentor is a humbling experience. But it is also a very powerful experience. We believe everyone has something to learn, and everyone has something to give. But for many of us, we undervalue our own experience and underestimate the knowledge we possess.
Being a mentor enables you to not only help someone else in their journey, but it’s also an experience that will challenge you to be a better version of yourself.
If you’d like to take up the challenge of being a mentor, feel free to sign up and explore Mentorloop Marketplace – it’s a free resource for anyone looking for a quality mentoring experience.
If you’re interested in flipping your mentor program on its head and applying a mentor first approach to your mentor program, please get in touch.